coronavirus toronto

Toronto Public Health is urging everyone to just stay home

If ever there were a time to feel good about skipping the gym, ordering copious amounts of takeout and bingeing dumb TV shows for days on end... well, this would be it: At (what we hope is) the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Public health officials all over the world are encouraging people to practice "social distancing" in an effort to flatten the epidemic curve of COVID-19 and protect those most-vulnerable to serious complications from contracting the 2019 novel coronavirus.

Gatherings of more than 50 people are now prohibited in Ontario and all but prohibited in Canada. Office buildings are shutting down at a clip and employees everywhere are being asked to work remotely. Anyone with even mild respiratory symptoms is currently forbidden from flying into the country.

At this point, it's probably a good idea to simply stay home if you can — or so say Toronto's top officials.

On Monday night, the city's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa formally recommended the closure of all bars, nightclubs, stadiums, concert venues, libraries, movie theatres, schools, childcare centres, dine-in restaurants and recreation centres.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford went one step further in flat-out ordering the closure of these public spaces on Tuesday morning when he declared an official state of emergency within the province, which is currently reporting 177 cases of COVID-19.

"I hope the seriousness of this declaration will make it clear to every resident how important their personal actions will be in the coming days," said Toronto Mayor John Tory in response to the province's state of emergency.

"If people can stay home then stay home and limit your interactions with other people," he continued. "We know from our medical professionals that engaging in social distancing will protect people's health and the health of their family and their neighbours."

De Villa was more blunt in her plea on Monday night, stating: "If you can stay home, do."

"If you are a business or an employee, help your staff to stay home," said de Villa in a press conference at City Hall.

"Limit group gatherings. If you need to seek medical attention call ahead. If you are a healthcare worker and you are sick, stay home. If you have travelled, stay home for 14 days from the day you arrived back from your travel."

Toronto's top doctor was, like Ford, careful to emphasize that these decisions were not made lightly and that the actions of residents are critical in slowing the spread of COVID-19 enough to keep local health facilities from becoming overwhelmed.

"The overall goal is to protect the overall health of our city. We all need to do our part," said de Villa on Monday night.

"If you can, stay home. Help out our city by reducing your interaction with others. Every little bit, every effort counts."

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